Many sites have done it in the past, and it now seems that Facebook is following suit. Status updates have become a commodity in the cyber world. Many average people don’t seem to be bothered by it. They are usually only posting pictures of cats and kids to a small number of close-knit friends, but others are starting to get hopping mad because they may now have to fork over some cash to get their fan followers to see their updates.
This seems to be greatly effecting the writing community, and I believe that to be attributed to the fact the mostly writers are on Facebook. Many musicians seem to be using the vamped up version of Myspace and many artists are using other social networking venues. Many of the authors you see on Facebook were pioneers, having been on Facebook since before it became cool. They started out with personal pages and used those as their fan page WAY before Facebook came up with business pages to like.
And now it seems that a status update, meant for hundreds of your friends and fans, will only be seen by a small few. At least, that’s according to the buzz that I’ve seen in several heated status updates as of late. Some writers have become so frustrated with their dwindling fan interaction that they have started to shell out some cold, hard cash to up their networking ante.
I personally have not spent any money, and I don’t think I see myself doing so anytime in the near future. It’s not because I don’t see the value in it, I’m sure there is plenty, or Facebook would not be proposing it. BUT I do view what is going on a little differently through my own observations.
First, on my own personal page, I have noticed that anyone who interacts with me on a regular basis is on my newsfeed, and I am on theirs, as well. If I have added someone to my newsfeed by clicking on the notifications tab underneath the friend button on their profile, they will also show up on my newsfeed, but that does not mean that I will show up on their feed. I’ll only show up there if they start interacting with me on my page, and not just their own.
Another way for people to show up on your feed is if you have corresponded through the private messenger. Again, both parties are engaging in a conversation, so it would seem logical for the people you talk to to show up in your feed.
Other factors may include your internet influence. In other words, if you engage with a lot of people, a lot of the time, you have some clout, or as another site likes to spell it, Klout. This site can gauge your presence on the internet and will let you know how influential you really are throughout all the social sites, not just Facebook.
These factors are very important to consider when interacting with fans, not just your friends. But how do you know when too much is too much? Fans aren’t always people you have known from high school, work, or even socially face-to-face. Some of them contact you to say hello and thank you for writing books X,Y, and Z for them because it shaped them into the people they are today. Some of them stay connected to you for years on end because your words and kindness mean that much. And it’s at that point that this particular writer considers those fans, friends. But not every fan feels that way. Some are never that close. Some just stick around for a week, or just until another book from another author strikes their fancy. So how can you find a balance as an author without sounding, dare I say, too sales pushy?
I honestly think it’s a fine line. Many of my interactions with fans have nothing to do with my books. Most of the time I spend with them is liking a status they made, or leaving them a comment to one of their cat pictures they have posted, or I’ll wish them a happy birthday if Facebook let’s me know it’s their day. I do this NOT to be sales pushy. I do this because I am genuinely grateful for their time and admiration. It doesn’t go unnoticed with me and I try to make that known to them as best as I can personally, and not just in a blog post or newsletter.
Now, before I start hearing a choir of pounding hearts and get drenched from the sweat of the palms of nervous newbie writers wondering how to carve out networking time, let me explain how long saying hello takes me. It takes about 5-10 hours a week. I only spend five hours during my busy weeks and ten when I have more time. There are weeks when I may not get to it, but I try to be as consistent as possible. Do I get to everyone? Probably not. I’m sure there are a few people that I’ve managed to miss due to an extensively growing friends list, but the point is I try, and I think that counts more than the dollars you spend.